Taipei Taxi Cab Chronicles

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By Joshua Dent

Introduction of Key Terms/Characters

Planet Josh= my brain

Taxi  Random old driver that picked me up this morning

MRT= Taipei’s mind-blowingly easy to navigate subway system

MRT Troubles

On a warmer than average Taipei winter morning, with a line of partially gray sky above, I begrudgingly set foot in a cab with checkered stickers plastered across the windows.

I was not exactly a bucket of fucking sunshine due to the fact that I somehow had already managed to get on the wrong MRT a bewildering 4 times in a row in an effort to get to The Taipei Zoo MRT Station.

I was 10 minutes past the agreed upon meeting time for our hiking trip.

With four miscues behind me, I felt like bashing my head against the wall in disgust by this point. This is not a good 9:07 a.m. feeling.

Taipei Zoo MRT, PLEASE…

Here is a brief excerpt of the conversation I had with the taxi driver:

Taxi- “哪裡 ” – English translation= Where are you going?

Me- “想要”  – English translation=  I would like to go to…

Me (cont’d)- uh, uh, uh, uh

Planet Josh- Yep. I don’t have a clue how to say zoo in Chinese. Zoo seems like one of those words that might sound similar in Chinese. I can bullshit my way through this. Give it another try!

Me (cont’d) – “想要” quick switch to English – “the zoo”- English translation= I would like to go to the zoo.

Taxi- BLANK stare

Lions, And Tigers, And Bears

Planet Josh- I have about .2 seconds to keep this guy from going deaf mute on me. I’m certain he will know the phrase “lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my”

Me- “The zoo. You know, LIONS, and TIGERS, and BEARS!!”

Taxi-“” – English translation= “I didn’t understand one word you just said!!”

Planet Josh- I want to reach over the driver’s side seat and choke the shit out of this guy. But, I can’t!!!

Planet Josh- It looks like I am going to have to act this out!! Damn it!!

Me- (arms stretched as wide as the cab goes, center vein ready to burst out of my forehead, and bright red face)  “ You know, LIONS, ROAR,  LIONS,ROAR, ROAR!!!”

Taxi- “Ok, OK!!“

Taxi- “想要.. zoo (insert random Chinese syllable)?”- English translation- You would like to go to… some word that sounded like zoo?

Planet Josh- Bullet dodged. He understood me. I knew I could do this.

Me- – English translation= Ok or good.

Five extremely long moments of awkward silence pass when the taxi pulls into the parking lot of the anticipated stop.

Taxi- “Ok!”

Planet Josh- I hope there isn’t a camera in this cab. I’m about to slouch down in the back seat of this car, and start kicking the living shit out of the back seat with my feet.

Me- (English Only Now) Are you fucking kidding me man? This is a museum!!


To realize I lost my cool over cultural/language barriers, you don’t exactly have to be a world fucking diplomat.

But, I am resisting my normal urge to come up with 7000 ways to not let this happen again, (smartphone, patience, map,etc.)

And, I am just going to leave you with the only goal that is always feasible- “Live and Learn!”

Am I the only one that has ever wanted to strangle a 57 year old man just trying to make a living? Vent your frustrations in the comment section if not!


2 thoughts on “Taipei Taxi Cab Chronicles

    Melody Chang said:
    January 18, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Did you finally go to the zoo anyway?
    In general most of the taxi drivers can’t speak English. Maybe you can ask someone else who speaks English and write down your destination in advance before you take a taxi. Well, still wish you have a nice stay here in Taiwan.


      jdent5936 responded:
      January 20, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Thanks so much for reading Melody. I have been blogging for over a year. But, I am always excited to meet a reader for the first time. I normally ask someone ahead of time. I just happened to kind of forget about it, and I was just hoping to elicit the humor out of the situation. The story actually got worse before it got better. ha ha. . The cab driver called his friend who spoke English after we were at the museum. So, I told him where I wanted. The driver proceeded to take me to the technology building. They were probably having a good laugh by that point.

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